A couple of weeks ago, at 31+4 weeks pregnant, I had a phone call from my midwife to tell me that I had tested positive for gestational diabetes. It was my second glucose tolerance test – I had only just passed the first one – so I was half expecting it, but it still came as a huge shock.
It was pretty inevitable, to be honest – my mom has type two diabetes, so that already increases my risk (cheers mom!), and I also have a high BMI (can’t blame anyone else for that one!) which also increased my risk, but it doesn’t make it much easier to swallow. I was hoping that with Elizabeth being our very last baby it would be straightforward, especially as so far this has been the easiest pregnancy so far. Babies don’t like to stick to the plan though!
Ironically, when she phoned, I was eating a bowl of pasta for my lunch, which suddenly I went off, and while I was on the phone, my shopping arrived, with a tub of ice cream at the top. I’m not going to lie, I booted it across the kitchen out of anger and frustration.
The midwife asked me to go in the next day to pick up a blood testing kit and find out what was going to happen next. Luckily, my mom had lent me a spare blood testing kit she had, so I started straight away. It meant completely rethinking my dinner that night – I ended up with a chicken wrap. An hour later, I checked my blood sugar and it was sky-high. Two mistakes there though – one was checking an hour after dinner (it needed to be two!) and two, the chicken was covered in breadcrumbs, which of course increased the carbs. Rookie errors!
I spent a long time on Friday talking to my friend, who had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy, and reading blogs and information websites to try and get my head around it as much as I could. I hate not feeling in control, so it was important to me that was informed as possible.
On Saturday morning, we popped into the midwife office on the way to taking the boys swimming. The midwife was pretty pleased with how informed I was about how to test my blood, that I had already started, the risks to baby and me and the changes I need to make to my diet. The midwife was absolutely lovely, but I was surprised about how little information I was given about diet. She basically said that I won’t be given any particular info and that the suggestion is to follow the NHS healthy eating guide, which of course, does not necessarily work for someone with a gestational diabetes diagnosis. I’m quite lucky that I am in a position where I can read up about it and do my own research, but there are plenty of women out there who can’t do that and I think would really struggle. That’s a whole different blog post though!
I’ve got a little book to note down my blood results. One day I have to do them before eating, the next day it’s two hours after eating, so I’m setting lots of alarms. I’ve been eating lots of egg-based meals – scrambled egg, omelets etc, and swapping things like white potatoes for sweet potatoes. So far it hasn’t been too bad, although in things like jars of sauces there is an incredible amount of hidden sugar, so I’m having to keep a very close eye on that. My one fear is becoming a little obsessed with checking – I have never looked at so many food labels in my life! However, when it’s my baby’s life my choices can affect, I don’t think I can be too careful.
At the moment, I feel ok about it all, now the initial shock has worn off. Of course, I’m a little worried because there are increased risks for both of us, and I’ve got all of the additional appointments to contend with, which will be a pain over the summer holidays, but it is what it is I suppose.
I suspect I will be writing a lot about the condition over the next few weeks – what is working for me, what isn’t working for me, what I’ve found out etc, in the hope that it helps anyone else who finds themselves with a gestational diabetes diagnosis in pregnancy.